Where most of today’s kitchen technology focuses on assisting homeowners with meal prep, laundry, cleaning, maintenance and other chores, tomorrow’s home will take care of itself - and take care of the homeowners before they even voice their wants and needs.
According to Kate Bailey, senior director of category management for Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, the future kitchen will be an intelligent, multi-functional home hub. “Kitchen spaces are rapidly evolving. Where there was once an area focused only on the sole activity of cooking. Today’s kitchen trends reflect the rapid changes in technology, globalization and climate, as well as homeowner habits and behaviors."
Here are a few of the innovations that suggest our lives may soon resemble that of your favorite TV sci-fi series.
Adopting IoT technology in the kitchen
The term “Internet of Things” describes all the physical home devices with a Wi-Fi connection that connect and communicate over a wireless network. In the kitchen, IoT can include an oven, refrigerator, faucet, or other devices with Wi-Fi-enabled sensors that improve efficiency, hygiene, and safety. Some examples of IoT in the kitchen that can make your life smarter, easier, greener, safer and healthier:
- Adopting IoT tech in the kitchen provides nutritional information or access to professional cooking demonstrations on built-in screens or automatic appliance upgrades.
- IoT tech detects hazards and other indicators of an accident or injury.
- The devices can communicate potential risks in real-time by transmitting an alert to the homeowner’s mobile device.
- Some IoT-enabled programs can automatically shut down a threat without human intervention. For example, a faucet shuts off once a certain amount of water has flowed to prevent flooding.
Smart tech becomes intelligent
As we move into the future, smart kitchen appliances and fixtures will become more predictive. We currently can peek into our refrigerators remotely, and in the not-too-distant future, this appliance may keep track of what’s inside using built-in bar codes and pressure sensors. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, this same appliance may one day be able to analyze contents and suggest, perhaps even order, groceries that the homeowner will find delicious and healthy. Of course, the refrigerator will communicate with the stove to ensure the homeowner can prepare the food!
Sustainable smart kitchen ecosystems
Kitchens of the future will be sustainable smart kitchen ecosystems and allow homeowners to cultivate the farm-to-table experience at home. Scientists and environmentalists have known for years that energy-efficient, high-performing homes use fewer resources. This translates into fewer costs for the homeowner in the long run. Appliances are likely to become more environmentally friendly, relying on sustainable energy. Creating a sustainable smart kitchen ecosystem with solar-powered appliances allows the homeowner to keep their operational costs low, and in some cases, generate income by selling solar energy back to the grid if they have installed solar panels for the entire home. Composting and smart indoor vegetable and herb growing appliances will be no longer be for early adopters, but will be considered the norm.
Inclusive of all cuisines
In the connected world, there’s a growing appreciation for international cuisines. There will be a point in the future where kitchens will be adequately equipped to prepare a diversity of food. Rydhima Brar, interior designer and founder and creative director of R/terior Studio says, “There are so many ways of life that are being celebrated every single day.” Brar, who is Indian by birth and grew up in Kuwait, recently spoke about designing kitchens for homeowners who enjoy preparing Indian cuisine involving many oils and spices at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery’s event series, Together by Design.
Brar reflected on her visits to India, and her experience with Indian home cooking. In the US, “What I see over here is that many Indian families end up having an additional kitchen over or in the garage and not using their kitchen for fear of staining or introducing aromas into other areas.” Brar says that the future kitchen will have durable, stain-resistant surfaces. With high-performing HVAC systems that provide proper kitchen ventilation and air filtration, the kitchen of the future will provide homeowners with fresh filtered air that increase indoor air quality for the entire home.
High tech, low touch
The future kitchen features intuitive and smart lighting solutions, touchless faucets, hands-free appliances, knock-front drawers and panels, automatic lid opening and self-cleaning features. These features appeal to a customer’s sense of well-being and security by eliminating additional surface touches. In the future, hands-free fixtures and voice-activated solutions will be considered the norm to limit exposure to viruses and bacteria and increase safety and good health. They will no longer be luxury items. The best part—homeowners won’t have to sacrifice style.
Integrated appliances and cabinets for enhanced convenience, storage
As the kitchen evolves to become the home hub and inclusive of more activities, cabinets and appliances blend seamlessly into the design, and smart home appliances are elevated to designer furnishings. To appeal to a wider audience, manufacturers are offering easier ways to customize and personalize the adoption of smart home tech. Homeowners no longer need to adopt an ultra-modern décor to incorporate the convenience as customizing the appearance of new appliances is now more accessible than ever. Some manufacturers offer homeowners the ability to select top-of-the-line materials and finishes to give their smart appliances the personalized look that fits their needs.
Creating universal kitchens has become the norm
Designers have discussed universal design for many years, which evolved from accessible design, a method that aims to increase the quality of life (mentally and physically) for a wide range of individuals and abilities. The future kitchen will balance function, safety, and aesthetics to create a functional space for everyone including those with disabilities, the elderly, children and anyone who may utilize the kitchen. This approach not only creates an accessible multi-functional kitchen with convenient features for a diverse group, but it reduces the need for future modifications.
There is no sign of homeowner’s lives slowing down. As more and more homeowners attempt to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities in the home, the kitchen must incorporate products that help them do the same. Guided assistance, meal planning, self-cleaning, voice control and appointment reminders are all welcomed in the active household. Many future kitchens will include “stations” for kids’ virtual learning and an added focus on the attached mudroom. Sometimes overlooked, the mudroom is now getting more attention because of the increased focus on hygiene. Since this is a transition space from the outside in and you don’t want germs entering your home, it makes sense to think about the functionality of this space. This is especially true for families with essential workers who are at a higher risk for COVID-19 exposure. To minimize the spread of germs, homeowners are creating inviting spaces, complete with a washer, dryer and utility sink, where they can carefully and safely transition from the outside world to the privacy of their homes.
Recently, comments and kitchen designs from Glenn Rush, designer manager for Build with Ferguson, as well as insights from designer Mika Kleinschmidt, were included in a Real Simple round-up article about post-pandemic kitchens of the future. Mika Kleinschmidt, realtor and star of HGTV’s “100 Day Dream Home,” notes that kitchens have always been referred to as the heart of the home. Kleinschmidt was a panelist for Ferguson’s Bath Kitchen & Lighting Gallery’s recent Together by Design event series. Glenn Rush, Designer Manager for Build from Ferguson, submitted the rendering of his idea of the kitchen of the future.